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Over the last four days I have been immersed in the world of poetry and healing. When most people think of poetry, they remember being forced to memorize metaphor, simile, alliteration, and on and on. Not fun! The National Association of Poetry Therapy’s annual conference, held at the Cenacle Retreat Center in Chicago, would be enough to change anyone’s mind. Poetry can lead you down the path of healing by opening your heart to beautiful, expressive language. Poetry takes our human experience and condenses it into concise and powerful words.

Although there were many fantastic workshops, I fell in love with the combination of poetry and dance in a workshop held Saturday morning. Tired from the day before, I entered the workshop not quite sure what to expect. The facilitator immediately had us on our feet, in a circle, holding hands. I felt the familiar demons rising up in me: oh no, am I going to look foolish? Will I get the moves right? I took all of these thoughts in and accepted them (welcome to the party)! and began to move and flow with the rest of the group. It was an amazing, healing experience that broke down many barriers, resulted in a lot of laughs, and a huge outpour of words on paper. How true that our bodies hold our stories, and they just wait for a chance to release them. Here is the poem I wrote after the sacred dance:

Twilight closes my eyes

And the stars glimmer from the purple smooth

I honor the four directions

The divine directions of my life

I feel love filtering through the circle

A ring of flowers, each in a different state of bloom

The music plays and my soul rises to follow the beat

Trembling in joy

I came to poetry therapy as an English teacher, wanting to forge a deeper connection between my students and the written word. I left the conference with a truer vision of what I am: a healer, both of myself and others. In this vein I have decided to extend my poetry therapy training to actually studying counseling at a local college.  I have decided not to leap into this path as soon as possible, however, and instead wait until the fall of 2014 to begin this training. 2013 will be a time of great rest and reflection. I must say, it does feel good to have some clarity! And I take with me on this journey the words of wisdom from the great poets, and the great healers, I met this weekend.

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